Councillors clash as controversial Peebles mill site is given the go-ahead for housing
March Street Mill, which was built in the late 19th century, closed in 2015 with the loss of 87 jobs.
Current land owners, Edinburgh-based Whiteburn Projects, were today – Monday, February 5 – granted approval by Scottish Borders Council’s Planning & Building Standards Committee to build 51 homes on the site.
The move will result in the loss of five out of 52 allotment plots and impact the size of another 15.
Objections have been made by a number of gardeners as well as the town’s community council and civic society.
The development will require the demolition of all existing buildings within the site apart from the Engine House, Boiler House and Gate Lodge.
Committee chair Councillor Simon Mountford, Conservative representative for Kelso & District, said: “This is an important development for Peebles and it re-purposes a key site in the town and makes significant provision for new housing, which we definitely need in the Borders.
“I also welcome the retention of the allotments, having been part of the committee which refused a previous application for this site, simply because the allotments were not adequately provided for.”
Tweeddale West Conservative councillor Eric Small said: “I think this is a great development for Peebles and I’m glad to see that compromise has been made with the allotments to accommodate them.”
Much less enthusiastic was Tweeddale West SNP councillor Viv Thomsom, who expressed concern around increased traffic and suggested “people were not being listened to”.
She said: “I still have concerns about the site and one is the volume of traffic on the neighbouring area. If you are sitting at Tesco trying to get out it’s a leap of faith at the moment, the parking on that road is nose to tail. It’s a really busy part of the town and bringing in 50 extra houses, with most houses bringing two cars, for me there is a concern around traffic.
“We have had objections raised by the community council and the civic society and we ask our communities to take part in place-making to tell us their aspirations for their towns. It concerns me that people are not being listened to.”
Roger Bainbridge, director of Design and Delivery for Whiteburn Projects, said: “Our key objective is to breathe new life into this part of Peebles and to create a great place for people to live, work and play.
“We expect to begin pre-construction works within the next few months, and we intend to move forward with our tendering processes. I would be keen to hear from any local suppliers and sub-contractors who would like to work on our March Street development.”